Vagabond of the Western World

It’s the fiftieth anniversary of Ireland’s national television broadcaster this year and amidst all the backslapping I’m sure there’ll be one or two shows worth checking out. One of the highlights so far was a tribite to one of Ireland’s first and finest rock stars. The Phil Lynott Archive was produced and directed by David Heffernan and featured already existing footage of the former Thin Lizzy frontman as well as new interviews and film. The near hour long programme didn’t contribute anything too new to his already well-documented story but it was wonderful to relive some of his finest moments again. We got to see clips of Phil’s early days with Taste, Lizzy’s heyday in the seventies and his solo work in the eighties. It was also interesting to compare the less coherent interview of a stoned Lynott backstage with the more gregarious fella on The Late Late Show with Gay Byrne. The interviews with the great and the good were mostly padding but I quite enjoyed the discussion of Lynott’s songwriting abilities by contemporary musicians. Even though Lizzy were lumped in with the hard rock and heavy metal crowds, Phil was equally at home writing a melodic ballad like Sarah or Dancing in the Moonlight. I had a look through my collection to see what if I had any versions of Phil’s songs by other artists and I was pleasantly surprised to find I had a few

Thin Lizzy had their first success outside Ireland with their version of the traditional Whiskey in the Jar, though they rarely covered other artists. But they did do a version of Rosalie by Bob Seger on Live & Dangerous from 1978 and it fits in seamlessly with the other tracks on that concert album. The rest of the songs below feature a mix of Irish and international musicians and begins with a pretty faithful rendition of Bad Reputation that appeared last year on Medium Rare by the Foo Fighters. Dublin resident Joe Elliott and his band Def Leppard included Don’t Believe a Word on their 2006 collection of tributes to their musical heroes called Yeah! A year earlier, Canadian Emm Gryner put out Songs of Love & Death and her piano-led version of Running Back was one of ten songs by Irish artists. The Cardigans from Sweden also slowed down Lizzy’s biggest hit on their mellow version of The Boys are Back in Town, a b-side of the Hey! Get Out of My Way single from 1995. Crooked Fingers chose The Wild One on their 2010 EP, Reservoir Songs II, while the Dropkick Murphys picked the more well-known Jailbreak as a bonus track on 2007’s The Meanest of Times. In 2005, easygoing Dubliner David Kitt released his album of covers, The Black & Red Notebook, and produced a typically chilled out version of Dancing in the Moonlight

The next four acts are also from Dublin, beginning with The Blue Angels and their easy take on Sarah from the 1991 EP, Get It Back. Whipping Boy’s When We Were Young (Philo Version) appeared on the 12″ of their 1996 single When We Were Young. It features the backing track of their own song with the lyrics of Shades of a Blue Orphanage, the closing and title track of Lizzy’s second album. Declan O’Rourke sang Little Girl in Bloom for a tribute to Phil, a track from Lizzy’s third album. Phil Lynott is the title of a single that also appeared on the Choice Music Prize-winning album Ritual by Jape. The song is an autobiographical tale where the singer points out that one day he too will wind up as a “dead man who plays the bass from Crumlin”. Dé Dannann play traditional Irish music and deliver a fine instrumental version of Phil’s duet with Gary Moore that appears on their Welcome to the Hotel Connemara album from 2000. The closing track is a mad version of Whiskey in the Jar that originally appeared as the title track of Humppamaratooni in 1997 by Eläkeläiset from Finland. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a nice finish to this post

Rosalie (Bob Seger cover) – Thin Lizzy

Bad Reputation (Thin Lizzy cover) – Foo Fighters

Don’t Believe A Word (Thin Lizzy cover) – Def Leppard

Running Back (Thin Lizzy cover) – Emm Gryner

The Boys Are Back In Town (Thin Lizzy cover) – The Cardigans

Wild One (Thin Lizzy cover) – Crooked Fingers

Jailbreak (Thin Lizzy cover) – Dropkick Murphys

Dancing In The Moonlight (Thin Lizzy cover) – David Kitt

Sarah (Thin Lizzy cover) – The Blue Angels

When We Were Young (Philo Version) – Whipping Boy

Little Girl In Bloom (Thin Lizzy cover) – Declan O’Rourke

Phil Lynott – Jape

Parisienne Walkways (Phil Lynott & Gary Moore cover) – De Dannan

Whiskey in the Jar (Thin Lizzy cover) – Elakeliset